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Guide to the Archives of the City of Seattle

Record Group 8100
Transportation Department

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) was formed by combining transportation planning from the former Strategic Planning Office (SPO) with the former Seattle Transportation Department (SeaTran) to bring a more comprehensive approach to transportation service delivery. A major element of SDOT's creation was the establishment of the Policy, Planning, and Major Project's division, which is charged with transportation system planning and providing increased control and influence over major projects under construction in Seattle.

SDOT is currently organized into eight divisions. The Director's Office, Human Resources, and Communications constitute the Executive management division. The Capital Projects and Roadway Structures division includes the Transportation Capital Improvement Program and operation and maintenance of the city's bridges and other structures. Street Use & Urban Forestry provides permitting for all work including planting, pruning, and removal of trees. Responsibility for long-range transportation planning, and developing transportation policy for the city of Seattle falls to the Policy & Planning division. Initiation of large projects and program development is lead by the Major Projects division. Financial oversight of the department, information systems and administrative support is directed by the Resource Management division. The Street Maintenance division has responsibility for street resurfacing, cleaning and general maintenance and Traffic Management is responsible for operation of the city's street system, and neighborhood and operational programs.

This department has had a long evolution beginning with the Department of Streets and Sewers which was responsible for planning, construction, repair, and cleaning of the City's streets, sidewalks, and sewers. City Council appointed Seattle's first Street Commissioner in 1875. The position came under the jurisdiction of the Board of Public Works in 1890. The position of Superintendent of Streets, Sewers and Parks was established in 1896; authority over parks was removed in 1904. In 1936 the Engineering Department assumed the responsibilities of the Department of Streets and Sewers and the Traffic Department and the Department became the Maintenance Division of the Engineering Department.

An ordinance creating a Department of Transportation was passed in July 1971. The legislation provided for the appointment of the Director of Transportation, specified the duties of the Transit Advisory Board, provided for the Seattle Transit Commission, and transferred all remaining operational aspects to the newly organized department. The Seattle Transportation Department was created in 1997 when the traffic and transportation functions of the Engineering Department were consolidated. By June 2002, SDOT and SPO consolidated to form a newly organized department which absorbed responsibilities for maintenance and operation of streets, bridges, retaining walls and seawalls, and traffic control systems in the City. An ordinance passed in 2004 changed the department's name to Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

Administration and Communication Division - Transportation Projects Digital Photographs

384 digital image files

Images depict Seattle neighborhoods including Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, Downtown, Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, South Lake Union, Beacon Hill, Belltown, and SODO. Also included are images of Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square and the Stadium District. Common subject matter is transit-oriented and includes bridges, ferries, buses, the waterfront trolley, railyards, the Alaskan Way Viaduct, street scenes, and traffic signage. Bike paths and cyclists are also featured. Scenic images included capture the Space Needle, Mount Rainier, Golden Gardens beach, and the Downtown skyline. Also included are images of damage resulting from the 2006 Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm.

8100-01 in Photograph Index
Finding Aid

Departmental Publications

0.4 cubic foot

Publications produced by SDOT, including employee newsletters, project updates, and brochures.

Folder List

Director's Subject Files

8.4 cubic feet

Predominantly files of Director Grace Crunican regarding transportation projects and issues, including the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement, Seattle Monorail Project, South Lake Union area, Mercer Street corridor and streetcars. Also documented are regional transportation issues involving Sound Transit, Link Light Rail, Puget Sound Regional Council and a Regional Transportation Investment District. Records include subject files, studies, reports, correspondence, briefing material, trip files, departmental and mayoral meeting agendas.

Folder List
Finding Aid

Capital Projects and Roadway Structures Digital Photographs

1011 digital image files

Images include the construction of the West Galer Flyover Project in Interbay and detail construction of the overpass from early in the project. Also included are images documenting DOT projects on the Mercer Corridor, NE 45th Viaduct, and the Lake City Way project. FEMA repairs and road improvements are featured, as well as images from projects in the bridge rehabilitation and replacement program, including the Jose Rizal bridge painting. Also included are images of the Duwamish bike trail. Images can be viewed online.

8101-10 in Photograph Index
Finding Aid

Major Projects Digital Photographs

222 digital image files

The South Lake Union Streetcar launched in December 2007 with an event sponsored by SDOT and attended by Mayor Nickels. Photographs document the community celebration and first streetcar trip from Westlake Station with the Mayor, councilmembers, and other elected officials on board. Images from 2011 and 2013 depict the sites of the Mercer Corridor and SR 99 Tunnel projects.

8111-01 in Photograph Index
Finding Aid